Interview – Al McNeil, Candidate Lyon County Sheriff


McNeil                                                                    Al McNeil

                           (vs Albert Torres)

This is a non-partisan race. Both candidates are Republican



Please post a short personal resume:

I began a 21-year Marine Corp career as a signals intelligence intercept operator targeting Soviet Naval transmissions from Adak, Alaska during the Cold War.  After this assignment, my first overseas tour involved the collection of Nicaraguan Sandinistas radio communications from Honduras in 1984.

Following my first enlistment, I then crossed over into the infantry field where I spent the remainder of my career almost exclusively in the special operations community. In 1986, I was part of a task force that trained Thailand Marines as they dealt with the opium drug trade routes out of Laos. Another task force assignment in 1994, found me training Peruvian Marines as they were combating Narcoterrorism against the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).

From 1991-1997, I was assigned to the special operations community at Camp Lejeune where I made numerous overseas deployments into the Mediterranean Ocean and Arabian Sea region with the 22nd, 24th, and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units, Special Operations Capable (MEU, SOC), and a Special Purpose MAGTF into South America. I served in many capacities during these deployments that included leadership positions as a platoon sergeant, platoon commander, and company gunnery sergeant, supervising and leading from 45-175 men. These were extremely busy years during which I participated in nation building, humanitarian assistance, and other specialized missions to promote partnership for peace programs between the United States and other nations, as well as in support of other NATO missions.

I was then transferred to the Marine Corp Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC), Bridgeport, California, as a mountaineering instructor where I fell in love with the Eastern Sierra region of Northern Nevada. It was there I learned the principles and management philosophies for Search & Rescue (SAR) operations that are mandated by N.R.S. for Sheriffs.

After being promoted to Master Sergeant in 1999, I became an operations chief and was transferred to the 31st MEU, SOC in Okinawa Japan. As such, I worked with the command staff in operational planning for 2,200 Marines and Sailors, and their respective combat equipment and service support. While in this position, I had the opportunity to work directly with host nations and state department personnel in operational planning and development, and mission execution.

I then was brought back to MCMWTC in 2001, where I became part of the command staff in the capacity of the base’s operations chief. One of my additional duties was to become a liaison with outlying law enforcement agencies, both in Nevada and California. In addition, I assumed the responsibility as the SAR coordinator at the regional level for military resources, and developed working relationships with state and federal fish & game departments, and national forestry agencies under the USDA. During this time, I oversaw the organizational planning of nine formal schools, 76 instructors, multi-million dollar budgets, and the training of approximately 12,000 students annually.

Upon my retirement from the Marine Corp in 2002, I began working for the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office where I continue to work and serve the citizens of Lyon County.  As a current tenured deputy with LCSO, I have worked in every available capacity, including detention, gang unit, patrol, detectives, Special Weapons and Tactics team member (S.W.A.T.), sex offender task force, Street Enforcement Team member (S.E.T.), and Field Training Officer (F.T.O.). In 2009, I was awarded the distinction of ‘Deputy of the Year’.

I hold dual Bachelor of Science degrees: Criminal Justice Business and Administration and Religion. I also have the distinction of being named an honor graduate for two separate senior military leadership academies in 1991 and 1997.  Additionally, I am bilingual in Spanish.

1.  Both you and your opponent have many years of experience in law enforcement.  Define your strengths and why you would better serve Lyon County in this position than your opponent.

Lyon County is facing some real threats from emergent criminal street gangs and outlaw motorcycle clubs. As a result, there are unrestricted narcotic distribution networks throughout the county which is one of the major contributing factors for the 2012 crime rate increase of 39%. This statistic is available through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Uniformed Crime Report. The actual numbers are supplied from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office mandated reporting.


One of my strengths comes from my overseas military drug-trafficking and narcoterrorism experiences. I have a greater knowledge of the damage unrestricted drug trafficking can do to a community and a country, and the violence it will produce if it is not suppressed.  Furthermore, because of my intelligence based military experiences, I have a greater understanding of the philosophy and doctrine, and have also seen the results for more productive police operations, which includes the necessity of effective intelligence-based training and products to support and develop operational planning, which by far, out-distances that of my opponent. It is because of these experiences that I will be able to guide the development of an Intelligence-led Policing (ILP) model for the agency’s future which is necessary to deal with the insurgence of gang and drug trafficking within our county. Through this model, we can maximize assets and resources at specific times and places, making it more economically feasible under current budgetary restraints.

Furthermore, there is always a despairing difference between what any entity truly needs in its workforce, and what it can afford. This difference must be made up of a robust and well-trained reserve force. In the late 1980s, I was assigned duty with a reserve infantry company, where I learned the importance of a reserve component to augment the active duty forces. As the saying goes, “Engage the reserves and mobilize a community.” This is one of the major downfalls with our current law enforcement administration. With restricted budgets, we must recruit, train, and retain a reserve component to augment our active law enforcement personnel across the spectrum as it relates to services. This includes both sworn and non-sworn reserve personnel, along with building upon and expanding the roles of successful programs like Search & Rescue and Volunteers in Policing (V.I.P.s).

My experiences as the operations chief for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable, and finally as the operations chief for the Marine Corp Mountain Warfare Training Center at Bridgeport California gives me the UNPRECEDENTED QUALIFIACTIONS AND EXPERIENCES as a planner and problem solver rarely seen for a law enforcement agency this size. As part of a command staff, operational plans were developed at a national level for international problems, including humanitarian missions, nation building, and partnership for peace programs. These plans included the control of more than 2,200 Marines, their combat related equipment, and service support. Experientially, I am well equipped for the forward thinking and vision planning necessary to meet Lyon County’s future law enforcement needs across its spectrum.

2.  Give your assessment of the current status of Lyon County’s Sheriff’s Department.

During the past eight years, I have observed the current Sheriff’s Office administration lead an agency into derailment. Because of its leadership failures, the department has demonstrated the inability to adapt in order to meet its citizen’s requests for safety and quality of life issues. Furthermore, these administration leadership philosophy failures have produced poor relationships with other agencies resulting in the departmental inability to develop sustainable and mutually assisting teams. Finally, poor administrative leadership principles have resulted in a departmental authoritarian model that has increased the separation between the leadership and its employees. We have systematically seen the byproduct of this derailment manifesting itself as greater division between the public and its law enforcement needs.

Poor management has resulted in a super majority of the Sheriff’s Office employees being disengaged with their work and the public. The department employees are highly ethical and hardworking, but they can be only as effective as the leadership for which they are provided. What this translates into is a high degree of degradation in the delivery of services being provided by our current law enforcement for our citizens. One only need reflect on the Lyon County crime rate increases and citizen’s raised voices for change to substantiate the previous statements.

Fiscal responsibility is another area of concern when we reflect on the mismanagement of our tax dollar resources. I have seen firsthand the unwise and unethical spending of our tax dollars. And finally, as a prior command staff leader, I see no future vision and the lack of implementation or understanding of evolving law enforcement philosophies as well as tactics, techniques, and procedures within the current administration.

The Sheriff’s Office needs a transformational leader who will reorganize and reform the office to improve its services in order to promote a higher quality of life for all Lyon County citizens. I am that leader who will emphatically emerge and take on the challenge. I am a person who has the right experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities, and who is not afraid to make the necessary changes and hard calls to improve our citizen’s quality of life.

3.  As Lyon County Sheriff what do you believe will be your greatest challenges in the next four years and how would you intend to address them?

The greatest challenge with any organization is to change its culture. There is little doubt that law enforcement has its own culture, which is based on values and assumptions shared consistently and widely by the rank and file. All too often, I continue hearing your voices about the personal interaction with law enforcement. Statements like “They don’t care” and “They are nothing but a bunch of thugs” are all too often repeated. Furthermore, I hear statements from the law enforcement side such as “They are all guilty until they prove their innocence.” As anyone can see, there is a great separation that divides us, and as President Lincoln so famously stated long ago, “A house divided cannot stand.”

The question then we must ask, is how did this separation occur? I would make the argument that it grew from an administration leadership failure. Again, many of you have said, “The Sheriff doesn’t return calls” and “he’s never there.” Furthermore, I will suggest that this lack of external administrative leadership presence is also prevalent internally, which is why this division between the Sheriff’s Department and those they serve has been growing and expanding during the past eight years.

Many valued advisors have suggested that it will be difficult for me to change the culture as your next elected Sheriff; however, I believe a culture change is necessary to create the proper, healthy citizen-law enforcement relationship in order to improve its delivery of services. My extensive experience, with over 30 years of leading and motivating people to achieve what they thought was previously impossible, will facilitate and allow me to successfully make those changes.

I will not rest until we tear down that wall that divides us……

4.  It is a long campaign season.  Many accusations and assertions are made by candidates.  Are there any specific charges or assertions made by your opponent, or others, that you feel are inaccurate or unfair that you would like to answer to?

The very visible hallmarks of my campaign thus far have been openness, honesty and integrity. Rather than stoop to the level of desperation exhibited by my opponent and spit useless rhetoric and accusations about, my intention is to allow the electorate to speak for me. I believe that the citizens of Lyon County will elect me to be their next Sheriff and in doing so will deliver a loud and clear message to the current administration. That message, of course, will be “that enough is enough, they will no longer tolerate the abuse of public office and that they demand and deserve to be heard”. I will stand strong and live up to the ethical attributes that the public is clamoring for in next Lyon County Sheriff …..I am absolutely the change that is needed and I will be the voice they deserve.

5.  Please use this space to elaborate on any specific issue(s) of concern:


We are in real trouble throughout Lyon County. With a crime rate increase of 39%, and a wall that separates law enforcement and the citizen of this county, we can no longer afford to sit back and accept the political rhetoric that says we should have little concern over our safety. We can no longer afford to ignore and avoid the real threats to our quality of life.

The major difference that distinguishes me from my opponent is my leadership and command staff operational planning experiences, which is evident by me bringing real solutions to the table instead of more political rhetoric. Having worked at a national level on international problems, I have the experience, skills, and ability to develop lasting and fulfilling partnerships with all involved entities.

Furthermore, while serving in the special operations community, plans were developed, staffed, and prepared to execute for 21 specialized mission within a 6 hour window. These lessons and experiences were not learned in the classroom or with theoretical study, but were real life experiences during my overseas services in war torn nations. It is these personal experiences as a task force team member and eventually as a command staff planner that taught me the important of thorough contingency plans ready to execute against emergencies outside the realm and scope of daily law enforcement operations, such as school shootings, mass causalities, and natural disasters (i.e., floods and earthquakes).

We must recognize these realities that face our county and embrace the fact that a dynamic, tested leader and staff planner must be sought and found to lead the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office. The time old adage here is that, it is not “if” it will happen, but “when” it will happen. This is truly what we expect of public safety, to rise during a crisis. Unfortunately, without a true and proven leader, greater disaster will follow. I am that true and proven leader and I will lead this county out of crisis into the expectation of an improved quality of life.

Editor’s Note:

I have asked Republican candidates in the Carson City District Attorney and Supervisor races & the Lyon County Sheriff’s and Commissioner races to participate in an online interview

The interview responses will be posted in full, unedited as submitted on NewsDesk (, the CCRW website ( and the Carson City Central Committee website (, and all other GOP associated websites that wish to do so.   The responses will be emailed to the membership of each organization, with reposting of any interview by interested parties strongly encouraged.

The purpose of these interviews is to allow our Republican candidates the opportunity to state their positions in their own words, describe how they differ from their opponent’s positions and why they would better serve their local government better than their opponent.

Nancy Dallas, Publisher/Editor NewsDesk (Est. January 2003)





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